Skip to main content

tv   War in the Pacific in August 1945  CSPAN  November 1, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm EST

5:30 pm
and looks at the lives of children of 20 dictators including talent, mussolini, mao zedong, and saddam hussein. >> he talked to knowledgeable people. i cannot talk to any family members. which was, usually the case. in the preparation for this book. there are only so many around to talk to. and only so many are willing to say what they know, or to diebold's their feelings or experiences at all. i would stick around for any scrappy tidbit i possibly could, because the sons and daughters, most of them, some of them are famous and important, some of them become dictators, but most of them are footnotes and a sides, and you really have to dig to find out about them. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. >> up next, a portion of a symposium focusing on asia and the pacific in august 1945 as world war ii was coming to an end. 70 years later, u.s. navy
5:31 pm
veteran robert kaufman recalls his world war ii experiences including his eyewitness account of the formal japanese surrender ceremony aboard the uss missouri. the institute for the study of strategy and politics posted this event. it is about 25 minutes. >> it is now my distinct honor to tell you about a special gentleman who is joined us for the proceedings today. captain robert k kaufman, united states navy, retired. a native of clarion, pennsylvania he is a , 1940 graduate of the united states naval academy. he participated in a number of north atlantic convoys and the operation torch invasion of north africa while serving aboard a heavy cruiser. after that, he applied for submarine school and upon graduation, he was assigned to the fleet submarine uss gato. he participated in three war
5:32 pm
patrols as a torpedo and gunnery officer and two war patrols as her executive officer. he was assigned duty as aid and flag lieutenant to the legendary commander submarine forces pacific fleet. it was while serving in this capacity that he was invited aboard the uss missouri to witness the surrender of japanese forces on september 2, 1945. in talking to him earlier today i asked , where he was during the surrender. many of you are probably familiar with the pictures and , it seems like every available surface was covered with marines and sailors taking in the event, and he said -- if you look at the picture of the admiral signing the surrender , behind him you can see all of the american flag and general officers, you will see one naval officer's camp without scrabbled eggs on it, indicating the rank of lieutenant or below, and
5:33 pm
he says that is me. i will direct your attention to the upper left corner and i believe that is you, sir. i think we have the right man? [laughter] after the surrender, he continued to serve and submarines including razorback, as commanding officer of sirago, and he commanded the uss hermitage. captain kaufman was decorated with the silver star medal, the bronze star medal, and two legions of merit. he retired from the navy in 1970 and resides in virginia. he is the subject of several hours of oral history interviews done by our oral history program here at the memorial and outside , our library, we have a model of the missouri, and a couple flyers on upcoming
5:34 pm
events, and an article on the captain you may want to pick up today. that is about all that i have to say except, please join me in welcoming a true american hero -- captain kaufman. [applause] the captain is also in our navy log with a very handsome portrait of him and his uniform and 1940. we would like you to have this printout of that, today. cpt. kaufman: he has already told you about what i was going to tell you that i will repeat some of it. my story will start at the middle of 1943. at that time admiral nimitz , who had his headquarters in pearl harbor, moved to guam and took with him his operational staff and left behind his logistics and admin people and
5:35 pm
so on. after he got out there, the operational commanders of the various forces in the pacific, followed him to guam. the commander of the pacific force and the fleet marine force and the one that interested me, the commander submarine force. vice admiral charles laughlin. also in the summer of 1943, i graduated from the submarine school and its abbreviated three-month wartime course, and had joined the submarine gato, in a naval shipyard in california. gedo -- gato was a named boat
5:36 pm
for one of the early classes of fleet submarines. it had a couple of distinctions, one of which was that it had six engines. it was common for submarines at that time to have five engines, but gato had four main engines and two auxiliary engines. that two being unusual. anyway i joined in the summer of of and we left the 1943, shipyard and went to pearl harbor, and then on to the western pacific. it has been said, i made three war patrols in gato, as a torpedo and gunnery officer, then i made two patrols as an executive officer.
5:37 pm
i must say, being the executive of a submarine in less than a year -- out of sub school was not usual. [laughter] things moved pretty pat -- pretty fast in those wartime days. during the time i was a torpedo and gunnery officer, my commanding officer was a fellow named bob foley, out of the naval academy class of 1928. during that. , and in later years, some of those older people were criticized for not being active enough in the command of their submarine, and were relieved and followed by younger submarine skippers. bob foley was not one of those people. he had plenty of get up and go and get up and get criticized for it.
5:38 pm
he was the recipient of a letter telling him not to repeat one of his operations. we had gotten into a japanese convoy, and every time we started to close -- this was during the daytime -- every time we started to close on the surface, an airplane came in. that got enough for bob foley, he got our machine crews on station, and they started firing back which chased the airplane away. and from that, admiral king did not agree was a proper submarine tactic. [laughter] also, during that time in command, there was a morning in the south china sea, when i was
5:39 pm
an officer in an attack with the submarine on the surface -- i want to give you some insight into that. during the early days of world war ii, submarines in the western pacific generally dove at dawn and stayed submerged all day and surface that evening twilight. as the war wore on, we learned with the proper vigilance, we could stay on the surface all day, and sight aircraft from far enough away and could get under before they got over us. in that condition, i was the tech at some place in the south china sea.
5:40 pm
i did not cite an aircraft, but i was looking around, and i saw something out there on the horizon. i looked closer and i thought i saw movement. i headed the submarine toward it, called the captain, and when we got over there, we found this wooden raft -- i suppose 15 or 18 feet square floating around in the middle of nowhere with a japanese soldier aboard. we got him aboard the submarine, and he was in pretty bad shape. this raft did not have any canvas or topping on it. he was out there in the sun with the saltwater washing over him for some several days, i don't know how long. i don't know whether we ever
5:41 pm
determined that. however, we got him aboard, and our pharmacist nursed him back to health over the next several days, and then the captain got him into wardrobe, somebody had a japanese-english dictionary, and captain foley used that and questioned the soldier, and i guess got his name, rank and serial number. and may have got the ship he came from. i was not in on that interrogation, so i don't know just how much information we got. he was quartered in the aft torpedo room. we always had a watch back there anyway. we had him several more weeks
5:42 pm
aboard. came into port, but moored alongside a submarine repair shop, and of course everybody knew that we were coming in as a prisoner -- with a prisoner. that main deck of the submarine area was covered with sailors. the guard from the aft torpedo room brought the prisoner up through one of the aft hatches. the japanese soldier took one look up at that main deck and saw all of these people looking at him, and he started right back down below. [laughter] he was perfectly content, i think, to spend the rest of his life in a u.s. submarine. [laughter] however, he was prompted to come out. he went over to the tender, and was met by a squad of marines
5:43 pm
and they took him away and that is the end of that story. the other incident that i want to tell you about, we got in -- i suppose with the help of some of our friends in the basement of one of those buildings in pearl harbor, on a japanese convoy early one afternoon. we got several hits on the convoy. and then we got a pacing from the convoy export. -- escort. a large number of depth charges, one of them very close. we managed to work our way away from the escorts and the convoy, helped in part by a rainstorm
5:44 pm
that made the japanese sonar somewhat unreliable. we worked our way away. that evening twilight, after a careful check around, we surfaced and got things squared away. nobody in sight. i happened to be the officer of backup at that time. the skipper was still on the bridge, and a couple lookouts. one of the other officers stuck his head up, requested to come up and we brought him up on the bridge, and he said that some of the people down below are complaining about something being loose on deck. he requested permission to go down and see what it was.
5:45 pm
he wasn't gone more than 30-45 seconds, and he was back up on the bridge, and he tapped the skipper on his shoulder and said, captain, there is a depth charged on there. the skipper said, yeah, we took some pretty close. and he said, that is not what i mean. it is still there. we got some more people back up on deck. we had a rubber boat on board, we took the japanese soldier up, i'm sure he thought we were going to throw him over the side. we gave him a piece of paper and a pen, and indicated for him to copy the inscription off the depth charge, and then the executive officer copied the inscriptions as best he could.
5:46 pm
because we knew that the , intelligence gang, when we got into port, was going to criticize us for not bringing that depth charge with us. [laughter] as gently as possible, we rolled this 500 pound can into the rubber boat, we trimmed it down until the main deck was awash, and again, as gently as possible pushed the rubber boat over the , side. we had a brief discussion as to whether or not to slash a hole in the rubber boat, and leave it for the japanese, and we did. we left. as was indicated, i think after that patrol, i fleeted up to become the exec, and we made a
5:47 pm
more war patrols. in the latter part of 1944, i was transferred away from gato. i expected to be gone to the exact of a new construction summering. i had a piece of paper that indicates that. but i was digging around pearl harbor doing some odd jobs and -- some ofel officer you may have known lawson ramidge. when he got dressed up and was wearing ribbons, the one in the upper right-hand corner of that top row of ribbons was a light blue-ribbon with 13 little stars in it.
5:48 pm
he had been a quite famous submarine skipper. anyway, he called me into his office and said, how would you like to go to guam and be the admiral's aide and flag lieutenant? i said i don't think i am cut out to be the flag lieutenant and he said go see the chief of staff. the chief of staff, commodore crawford, asked me the same question and i gave him the same answer and he said, go pack. [laughter] early 1943 -- 1944, get it right, i had -- or early 1945, i go to guam and was the admiral's flag lieutenant for most of 1945. at the end of the war, admiral nimitz directed all of the flag and general officers in the
5:49 pm
pacific, who could get away and turn their command to a trusted subordinate, and come to tokyo to be aboard the missouri for the surrender ceremony. at that time admiral lockhart took me with him. that is how i got to be on board for the surrender ceremony. at the time, i was 25. a lot of time has transpired since then, but i remember that ceremony quite well. thank you. [applause] in this picture up there, you can see general macarthur, admiral hallsy, admiral forest sherman, and right back of the admiral is my boss,
5:50 pm
admiral lockwood. >> do you have any questions for captain kaufman? please do. >> -- arctic convoy? >> he would like to know about your experience in the north atlantic continent. cpt. kaufman: in the summer of 1942, we had an eight-inch gun cruiser -- most of the time i was a gunnery officer it was a an eight triple cruiser. so when i got a small popgun that did not intimidate me very much, but getting back to the north atlantic -- in the summer of
5:51 pm
1942, we went to england and became an actual part of the royal navy fleet, in order to be able to operate with the home fleet, those of us who stood under way went out and small craft, used a british signal book, the flags were the same, but they meant different things. we learned to do squads right and squads left in accordance with the british system. at one of those times, we became a covering force for a convoy. heading for mermansk. we were not directly in contact with the convoy, but we were there to keep any german surface ships from coming out and working on it. the convoy was heavily attacked by air.
5:52 pm
we lost a lot of ships, but those who survived got into mirmansk. anything else? >> any other questions? hard to see with the lighting -- don't be shy. colonel, yes? >> what were your experiences in japan following the surrender? did you stay there and interact with the japanese people at all? cpt. kaufman: after the ceremony, admiral lockwood and the submarine squadron commander who was aboard the submarine tender there, and i, visited the submarine base. we walked through and looked at a lot of submarines, a lot of under construction submarines. we went into a lot of buildings. captain parks, the squadron
5:53 pm
commander and i, were both packing pistols. admiral lockwood didn't have anything, but he scared us to death. we'd go into a building and he would go to a closed door and opened it up, we expected it to blow up in his face, which of course it didn't. all the vehicles that we saw -- there wasn't a soul around, the vehicles all had their driveshafts disconnected and bent. that was the only indication we saw that the japanese expected us to take a look at that sub base. >> in the back there. >> was there much difference between american and japanese technology that you found aboard these ships or submarines? cpt. kaufman: i really cannot answer that.
5:54 pm
because we took about four , japanese submarines back to pearl harbor after the war, and i don't know that we found out very much in the way of technology, that they had done a whole lot about. a friend of mine, who commanded one of them, told me that the condition of the boats they took back to pearl harbor was pretty bad. whether that was due to a fall of morale at the end of the war, or whether that was the general situation, i do not know. >> yes? >> admiral lockwood is often given credit for revitalizing the submarine force, especially in doing away with some of that malfunctions on the mark xiv, he
5:55 pm
must've had special qualities. can you tell us about the admiral? cpt. kaufman: before i got on the staff, he had already heard from his commanding officers that they were hitting ships and the torpedoes were not going off. these were mark xiv steam driven torpedoes. there was a magnetic exploder that was supposed to set the torpedo to run under the target, and the magnetic influence would fire it. that wasn't working. the depth setting device was malfunctioning. the torpedoes were running deeper than set.
5:56 pm
while he was still in pearl harbor, he had some test runs, he had some nets arranged so you could fire a torpedo and determine the hole through which it went through, and what its actual depth was. he conducted some tests with the magnetic exploders. he conducted some tests with the percussion exploders, by firing torpedoes at the various cliffs around the hawaiian islands, finding out that the percussion exploders didn't always work depending on the angle the torpedo hit. when he conducted these experiments, he was able to convince the people at the
5:57 pm
torpedo factory, who kept saying that everything was fine, that the skippers did not know how to fire them -- those tests convinced them something was wrong. i recall, during the time i was a torpedo and gunnery officer at gato, we got a radio message to disable the magnetic feature, because they definitely found out it was not working. then, toward the end of the war, when i was on the staff, for several years, we had not had any submarines in the sea of japan, because the southern entrance to the sea of japan was heavily mined, and so we had
5:58 pm
not sent anything in there. admiral lockwood, in talking to some of the west coast universities, had them develop a mine detection sonar that could detect a small floating object so big. they developed it under his urging. the mine detection sonar was built and installed and 10-15 submarines. he had one officer on the staff who became the training officer for the mine detecting sonar. when all of those boats trained up, and one at a time went into the sea of japan, and didn't stir up any action at all, until all of the boats were in there,
5:59 pm
then opened fire and closed down the sea of japan for japanese merchant shipping. >> thank you so much. it has been an honor to have you here today. [applause] i would like to present you with one of our v-j day 70th anniversary coins. it is nothing like the souvenir he still carries in his wallet stating he was aboard the uss missouri on september 2. which is pretty cool. thank you so much.
6:00 pm
that being believe first lady should prevent me ideas.pressing my pro choice andas supporter of the quality rights amendment. for much the family public life andstruggled with drug alcohol dependency. ford, tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's original series, first ladies, influence and image. examining the public and private lives.

16 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on